And who needs a living will? Basically, a living will is a form of expression of independence. We are, after all, free to decide, in life and in death. The expression living will is sometimes used to refer to a document in which you write down what you want to happen if you become ill and cannot communicate your wishes about treatment. It is quite common, for example, for people to write a living will saying that they do not want to be kept alive on artificial life supports if they have no hope of recovery. The term advance directive is also frequently used to refer to such a document. Some people also use the phrase proxy directive to describe a document that combines a Power of Attorney and a living will.

Living Will Declaration
A living will is a declaration that you desire to die a natural death. You do not want extraordinary medical treatment or artificial nutrition or hydration used to keep you alive if there is no reasonable hope of recovery. A living will gives your doctor permission to withhold or withdraw life support systems under certain conditions.

Through advances in medical technology, some patients who formerly would have died can now be kept alive by artificial means. Sometimes a patient may desire such treatment because it is a temporary measure potentially leading to the restoration of health. At other times, such treatment may be undesirable because it may only prolong the process of dying rather than restore the patient to an acceptable quality of life. In any case, each person is seen, under the law, as having the personal right to decide whether to institute, continue or terminate such treatment. As long as a patient is mentally competent, he or she can be consulted about desired treatment. When a patient has lost the capacity to communicate, however, the situation is different. The living will is used when a person in question is no longer able to communicate their will, thus, the will which was written earlier will be used.

Although New York has no statute on the question, there are state and federal court decisions that have established the right of an incompetent or comatose patient to have his or her wishes respected, as long as those wishes are known. New York law requires clear and convincing evidence of what the patient would want. Of all the various acceptable forms of evidence, a health care declaration (called a Living Will) can be the best. It simply documents a person’s wishes concerning treatment when those wishes can no longer be personally communicated. Even in New York, such a document is recognized if it is clear, specific and unequivocal.

You should realize that if you do not express your views, treatment to maintain your life, by whatever means available, will probably be provided once you are no longer able to communicate, even if family members object. Therefore, if there are conditions under which you would not want treatment, it is important that you communicate your wishes while you are able to do so. In addition, because it is important that your wishes be documented in the most effective way possible, it is recommended that you consult your attorney in regard to the preparation of a health care declaration.

Should I Discuss my Living Will with Anyone?
It is always recommended that your living will be discussed with your family members, your doctor and your lawyer. The living will needs to be signed, and witnessed. Find out more information on Living Wills, as this is a sure way of ensuring your wishes when you are not in the state to communicate them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *